$16K For the First Person to Hack iPhone 5S Fingerprint Sensor

Hackers gather a bounty to crack iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor.

ByABC News
September 19, 2013, 5:59 PM

Sept. 19, 2013 — -- One lucky cat has already gotten its paws on the iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor. But when the phone finally goes on sale Friday, another group is eager to get their hands on Apple's security feature.

The computer security and hacking community is gearing up to crack Apple's Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor embedded in the iPhone 5S home button.

Two security experts Nick Depetrillo and Robert David Graham have launched http://istouchidhackedyet.com, a site that tells people that the sensor hasn't been broken into yet. They have also started to collect a bounty for the first person to hack Touch ID by lifting prints from a beer mug or gummy bear or something else.

"Hackers had used gummy bears to lift fingerprint sensors a while back," Graham told ABC News. "We are arguing that it is a lot harder. We are all offering money, betting that it is going to be hard. We are betting that no one tomorrow is going to grab a gummy bear and get through tomorrow."

Now, people from the security and hacking community are contributing to that bounty by tweeting their addition to the sum of money with the hashtag #istouchidhackedyet. As of Thursday evening, $16,000 had been donated, which includes a combination of cash, bitcoins and bottles of alcohol. Venture capital firm I/O Capital Partners has thrown $10,000 into the pot.

Forget the iPhone 5S Hackers, Fear the Cats

"One of the principals in the security community is you can't trust something unless there is a bounty for it," Graham explained. The idea is that if there is no motivation to hack into something or test the security limits, many won't even bother trying or they certainly won't try hard. Facebook, Google and other companies have similar programs where they will pay users who pinpoint security loopholes.

Graham did clarify though that if a person did successfully hack Touch ID, that individual would have to go and collect the money from each person. He will continue to place the bounties on the website.

"This isn't Kickstarter," Graham said. "It's more like LOLstarter."

Apple did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on the website and the plausibility of using lifted prints to get into the phone, but last week the company clarified that the prints are encrypted within the iPhone's processor.